ORANGE, Texas — In mid-February, just nine weeks ago, B.A.S.S. officials announced that the fan-favorite Elite tournament on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas, would be rescheduled for later in the year because regional mandates that were in place would dramatically reduce the number of fans permitted on-site.
Previous Elite events in Orange, Texas, have drawn record-breaking crowds — in three previous visits, the crowds totaled more than 96,000.
Just three weeks later, Governor Greg Abbott rescinded mandates limiting crowd sizes, and staff in the B.A.S.S. offices and in Orange began scrambling to pull off the tournament, which also includes nightly live music and the Orange County River Festival.
The results were beyond what anyone could have predicted, as local officials announced a total 40,107 fans attended the four-day event while generating more than $2.5 million in revenue for local businesses.
“Bassmaster and the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce’s commitment to a fantastic event that highlights our resources and the community’s support of bass fishing culminated in a record-setting event,” said Orange County Judge John Gothia. “We are very excited about the record and look forward to hosting again in the future.”
The crowds at Orange first drew national attention in 2013, when over four days, 33,650 people came to the season opener of the Elite Series, beating the previous four-day record by 15,730. Just six months later, the tiny Village of Waddington, N.Y., would break that record (34,100). Waddington would best their own record in 2018, setting an Elite Series attendance high-water mark of 36,200.
With this past weekend’s attendance of over 40,100 at the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River, Orange has set a record that will be hard to surpass.
“We were extremely excited to set a new record in attendance for the Bassmaster Elite Series on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas,” said Ida Schossow, President of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, the local host for the Dovetail Games Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River sponsored by 'Bassmaster Fishing 2022' the official video game of B.A.S.S. “Our community loves Bassmaster, and they came out to support the event. We are always looking forward to hosting and will be glad to have B.A.S.S. return for future events!”
Orange, Texas, and Waddington, N.Y., combine for nine of the top 10 highest attended Elite Series events of all time.